Israeli Warships Confront Freedom Flotilla
Note: Palestinian human rights activist Mazin Qumsiyeh sent out the following personal note in response to Israel hijacking the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza. He urged people to take action to support the flotilla. We provide details on how to do so at the bottom of this post.
#FreedomFlotilla boat carrying medical supplies for #Gaza hijacked by Israeli forces. PLEASE contact your governments to demand they call for safe passage for all on board #AlAwda (The Return) and speedy delivery of our solidarity gifts to the Palestinians of Gaza:
I went to Napoli Italy and joined to support the freedom flotilla (https://jfp.freedomflotilla.or
g/) to Gaza. IIn Napoli, there was a series of events in the build-up of people support for the boats. There are four boats, three sailboats and one (fairly large) engine boat. This latter is the one I was to be on. I did not book a Bed & Breakfast room and chose to stay with the group which was split between those that stayed at the boat or in an “occupied building” downtown. The abandoned building used to be a sports facility that is not maintained and is one of several abandoned facilities that were taken over by students and activists to use. It was on a main street and was noisy but it is OK. The boat cabins themselves are very hot (Not to mention mosquitos at the port area). In any case, the conversations, activities, and work left little time for sleep. On the second evening in Napoli, my mobile phone was stolen on the boat (not by someone interested in its economic value but by Zionist infiltrator/s). I had to spend some time to deal with this problem privately with help of colleagues back home in Palestine. Napoli people (including the mayor) were very welcoming.
While in Napoli I also managed to squeeze some time to visit the oldest Rotary club here (founded 1924) and visit the natural history museum (actually it is a series of separate museums: geology, paleontology, ethnology, biology). Making connections and networking with new people every day. On Sunday, we left Napoli in an emotional farewell. Some members went by ferry or even airplane to Palermo. I and 15 others (six crew members, two journalists) were on Al-Awda ship. We ran it rather slowly so that we arrive to Palermo 24 hours later together with the slower sailing boats. The 24 hours on the Mediterranean were hard on our bodies (little sleep, constant roll, and tug of waves and movement) but were really uplifting to spirits. Beautiful blue waters, beautiful skies, and great people to talk to and learn about their lives and what makes them tick etc. At one point we were visited by a group of some 40 dolphins who decided to greet us and give us a show. People and dolphins really seemed so happy to see and greet each other.
Arriving near Palermo, the sail boats were there to circle our boat and then the four boats with us leading approached the harbor. From the distance, I could see how excited the crowds were to welcome us. Flag of the city, an honor guard of the city, flags of Palestine, flags of some hosting groups, and most of all good people (including our own ground team) were there cheering, waving, dancing as our ship crew docked and tied the ship.
After some brief speeches from the Mayor of Palermo and some of us, the whole group of some 100 people marched to join a large (400 people) demonstration that was already taking place about 2 km away. The latter was a demonstration in support pf immigrant rights (Palermo is a welcoming city for immigrants). As we approached the larger demonstration chanting Palestine Libere and free, free Palestine the larger demonstration was so happy to see us and broke out in a great wave of cheers. Here in Palermo, I split my time between a B&B (where I could take a shower) and the boat. I also spoke to participants and locals. I visited with Rotary Clubs and with the botanical garden. I met great people and reconnected with old friends. I had long private convesrations that sometimes lasted for two hours or more with people like Dr. Ang Swee Chai and Dr. May Kayyali. The former is an orthopedic surgeon who already worked treating Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila in 1982 and in Gaza and other places and I was glad to connect her and that she immediately agreed to be on the boat (a far stronger candidate than I am). Dr. Kayyali whom I knew for some 15 year is one of the best Palestinian ambassadors in the world. She hosted the participants for Maqlouba and served it herself! I met so many other good people who are now on the boats hijacked by Israeli apartheir racoist forces. Great people.
I am heartbroken that I could not join the boats on the last leg to Gaza (for many reasons that I will not bore you with) but being with them for 10 days was one of the best investments in my time and money. Having met these hundreds of people and seen the determination and love we share adds to my confidence that Palestine will be free (from the river to the sea!). So my friends are now in Zionist small jails and I remain in a Zionist big jail (apartheid ghetto reserved for Palestinians). On Friday Israel killed and injured Palestinian children who were protesting the killing and injuring of Palestinian children. Today (sunday, contemporaneous with hijacking our boats), Israeli apartheid released Ahed and Nariman Tami. Life, death, suffering, plain, giving goes on. Libre Palestina- Free free Palestine .. Viva Palestina
My body is in Bethlehem — my heart is on Al-Awda ship.
Following the freedom flotilla:
Facebook – FreedomFlotillaCoalition
Twitter – @GazaFFlotilla
Instagram – @gazafreedomflotilla
And encouraging others to spread the word using hashtags #ShiptoGaza
#FreedomFlotilla #CountdownToGaza. You can also share videos and pictures
there are many on our facebook/freedomflotilla page, using those same tags
and if a new post – @freedomflotillacoalition
The motor vessel Al Awda (The Return), traveling in international waters towards Palestinian waters, 49 nautical miles from the port in Gaza City, has been contacted by the Israeli Occupation Forces navy and warned. The Israeli navy claims our ship is breaking international law and threatens that they will use “any measures necessary” to stop us. In fact, the only “necessary measures” would be to end the blockade of Gaza and restore freedom of movement for all Palestinians. At last news from on board, Al Awda maintains her course towards Gaza, where the crew and participants hope to arrive this evening around 21:00 local time.
A number of warships have appeared, so an attack, boarding and capture appear to be imminent, and we anticipate that all communications with the vessel will be lost shortly.
Al Awda is sailing under a Norwegian flag, carrying 22 people and a cargo of medical supplies, including #Gauze4Gaza. Passengers and crew on board are from 16 nations, including human rights supporters, journalists, and crew, along with €13,000 worth of urgently needed medical supplies. The boat itself, a former fishing vessel from Norway, is a gift to Palestinian fishers in Gaza.
Four boats left Scandinavia in mid-May and have since stopped in 28 ports building support for a ‘Just Future for Palestine’, that demands Israel end its ongoing breaches of international law and the twelve-year blockade of Gaza, thereby enabling the only closed port in the Mediterranean to open and for people to have their right to freedom of movement.
Al Awda is being followed by the Swedish-flagged yacht.
Freedom, which is also carrying medical supplies along with people from a number of nations. We anticipate that it will reach a similar area where the IOF attacked Al Awda within the next two days. Two smaller sailing boats that travelled from Scandinavia and sailed through the canal system in Netherlands, Belgium and France visiting inland ports, participated in the mission until Palermo.
“The Freedom Flotilla Coalition calls on the Norwegian Government, the national governments of those aboard Al Awda and the Freedom, other national governments, and relevant international organizations to act immediately.” said Torstein Dahle of Ship to Gaza Norway, part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition. “The international community must assume its responsibilities and demand that Israeli authorities ensure the safety of those on board, the speedy delivery of our gifts to the Palestinian people in Gaza, an end to the illegal blockade of Gaza, and to stop impeding our legal right of innocent passage to Gaza to deliver our gift of much-needed medical supplies”.
More information about the ‘Right to a Just Future for Palestine’ flotilla and the FFC:
For US citizens, please call the US Department of State and demand that the State of Israel be held accountable for piracy–and demand that the medical supplies for Gaza on Al Awda be sent from Ashdod harbor to Gaza as provided by international law.
Call/email/tweet for release of US participant Joe Meadors
US Embassy in Israel
U.S. Embassy Jerusalem
14 David Flusser
Jerusalem 9378322, Israel
Phone: 02-630-4000 (ask for Ambassador, American Citizen Services and/or Duty Officer)
Branch Office Tel Aviv
71 HaYarkon Street
Tel Aviv 6343229, Israel
Phone: 03-519-7575 (ask for Ambassador, American Citizen Services and/or Duty Officer)